The Silent Killer

by: Mike Lovell

Hi! My name is Mike Lovell and I’m an addict. Yes, I allowed a compulsion to control my decision making, harm my health even cause problems within my family. It affected my mental ability to react rationally in times of stress and even my spiritual outlook on life. I am not alone in this; literally millions of people (saved and lost alike) fight this killer. It is responsible, directly or indirectly, for debilitating diseases and deaths. To make things worse, it is not only legal to have and consume, it is constantly being offered to us in one form or another on a daily basis. This substance is socially acceptable, readily available and freely offered at most parties and family gatherings; in fact, we gladly go out of our way to make sure our children get plenty as treats or as a reward for good behavior.

What in the world could this be you ask? You’re not going to like the answer…it’s… SUGAR.

I can hear the crowds clamoring now, “Away with him?”

I know, there will probably be no real consideration of these statements even after I offer proof, just the same ole response that we see in 1 Peter 3:4; addictions are hard to break (but of course, there is never really an addiction to chocolate, just a rightful appreciation for one of God’s highest levels of creation, I jest…kind of…well…really…?

So, what is addiction? It is a state defined by compulsive engagement in naturally rewarding behavior or compulsive drug use, despite adverse consequences. So it’s doing things, eating or taking something that makes us feel good and we don’t care if it’s bad for us or wrong to do. We hear (or say) statements like: I’ve got to have something sweet before I go to bed, or I like to treat myself, or I can’t drink coffee or tea without it being sweet. These all have the same feel as those that say I have to have a drink after work to unwind or a glass of wine with my meal. You have to? Really?

Let us take a look at some facts and studies and see where all this sugary goodness takes us and really how important that snack or bowl of cereal is in the grand scheme of your health.

The single largest source of calories for Americans comes from sugar—specifically high fructose corn syrup, and according to a 300-year trend researched by Mercola:

  • The average person consumed about 4 pounds of sugar per year in 1700.
  • The average person consumed about 18 pounds of sugar per year in 1800.
  • Individual consumption had risen to 90 pounds of sugar per year in 1900.
  • In 2009, more than 50 percent of all Americans consume one-half pound of sugar PER DAY! That’s over 180 pounds of sugar in a year. (Mercola, 2010)

WHAT!?! Over 180 pounds? No way, that’s got to be wrong? Well, before we write this off as impossible, let’s take a look at the many names of sugar: barley malt, corn syrup solids, fruit juice, honey, beet sugar, date sugar, fruit juice concentrate, invert sugar, brown sugar, dextran, glucose, lactose, buttered syrup, dextrose, glucose solids, malt syrup, cane-juice crystals, diatase, golden sugar, maltodextrin, cane sugar, distatic malt, golden syrup, maltose, carmel, ethyl maltol, grape sugar, mannitol, carob syrup, fructose, high fructose corn syrup, molasses, raw sugar, refiners sugar, sorbitol, sorghum syrup, sucrose, sugar, turbinado sugar and yellow sugar. If we take a good honest look at the ingredients in our processed foods, it’s easy to see how this can be true. If we count all the sodas, candy bars, granola bars, energy drinks, etc. it’s not hard to see the truth in that statement.

There is research to suggest that this higher intake of added sugar is associated with CVD (cardiovascular disease) risk factors. This study found 71.4% of adults in the U.S. consume 10% or more of their calorie intake from added sugar. (Quanhe Yang, Zhang, MD, PhD, Gregg, PhD, Flanders, MD, ScD, Merritt, MA, & Hu, MD, PhD, 2014). So, if you are one of those adults eating 2000 calories/day, 200+ of those are just added sugar. The importance of this finding is that adults who consume 10% to 25% of their daily calorie intake in added sugar had a 30% greater chance of dying from a heart attack than those who ate less than 10% (Quanhe Yang, et al., 2014).

Another fact of interest would be that in 1893 there were fewer than 3 cases of diabetes for every 100,000 people in America. Today the numbers are a bit higher at 8000 cases per 100,000 people in the U.S., and in fact studies have shown that diabetes has adverse effects on the brain such as:

  • Longer duration of diabetes is associated with brain volume loss, particularly in the gray matter. In other words, loss of gray matter is associated with dementia and Alzheimer’s;
  • The brain size of diabetics decreased twice as rapidly as non-diabetics. (R. Nick Bryan, 2014)

I know, some of you will argue that you’re eating the good sugars found in fruits. This sugar is called fructose and it is metabolized primarily by the liver. Once it hits the liver, where does this sugar go? It is converted to fat in the form of VLDLs and triglycerides which sit in the liver and can cause nonalcoholic fatty liver disease or they are carried to different storage sites in the body (thighs, stomach, neck, arms, you know, all the attractive places).

But, the metabolism of fructose is more than just the fats and triglycerides:

  • Fructose raises uric acid levels which can cause the contraction of smooth muscle cells in the arteries raising blood pressure.
  • This increase in uric acid creates inflammation in the system which has many far reaching health consequences. For example; inflammation of the arteries is a cause of plaque buildup and eventual artery blockage.
  • Fructose does not stimulate the release of insulin as does glucose. Insulin is required to stimulate leptin levels which tell the body its full so stop eating. It also raises ghrelin levels which tell the body it’s hungry. So, high fructose meals and snacks can actually cause weight gain due to over eating (Teff, 2013).

For those who drink diet sodas, allow me to add to these warnings. Daily diet soda consumption was associated with significantly greater risks of two metabolic syndrome components (incident high waist circumference and fasting glucose) and type 2 diabetes. Drinking diet drinks by themselves or in conjunction with weight loss diets have been shown to lead to weight gain, impaired glucose control (hindering insulin response) and eventual diabetes (Jennifer A. Nettleton, 2009).

In light of just these few facts and studies showing the dangers sugar poses to our health, it may be time to consider just how necessary or important sugar really is for us and our children. Sin is already destroying our bodies, why speed things along? Is there not a cause and a work to do?

Mike Lovell
Hormone Age Management
225.928.1791 office

Works Cited

Jennifer A. Nettleton, P. (2009, April). Diet Soda Intake and Risk of Incident Metabolic Syndrome and Type 2 Diabetes in the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA)*. Retrieved from Diabetes Care: http://care.diabetesjournals.org/content/32/4/688.short

Mercola. (2010, April 20). Fructose: This Addictive Commonly Used Food Feeds Cancer Cells, Triggers Weight Gain, and Promotes Premature Aging. Retrieved October 18, 2014, from Mercola.com: http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2010/04/20/sugar-dangers.aspx

Quanhe Yang, P., Zhang, MD, PhD, Z., Gregg, PhD, E., Flanders, MD, ScD, W., Merritt, MA, R., & Hu, MD, PhD, F. (2014, April). Added Sugar Intake and Cardiovascular Diseases Mortality Among US Adults. Retrieved from JAMA Internal Medicine: http://archinte.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleID=1819573&utm_source=Silverchair+Information+Systems&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=ArchivesofInternalMedicine:OnlineFirst02/03/2014

R. Nick Bryan, M. P. (2014, July). Effect of Diabetes on Brain Structure: The Action to Control Cardiovascular Risk in Diabetes MR Imaging Baseline Data . Retrieved from Radiology: http://pubs.rsna.org/doi/full/10.1148/radiol.14131494

Teff, K. L. (2013, July 2). Dietary Fructose Reduces Circulating Insulin and Leptin, Attenuates Postprandial Suppression of Ghrelin, and Increases Triglycerides in Women. Retrieved from JCEM: http://press.endocrine.org/doi/abs/10.1210/jc.2003-031855

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